With the commitment of ESPN 60 small forward Max Agbonkpolo to USC’s 2019 basketball recruiting class, coach Andy Enfield’s number one-ranked class now consists of a shooting guard and small forward considered among the nation’s top 100 players, along with a power forward and center both ranked by some recruiting sites as five stars.
In addition to Agbonkpolo, commits Drake London, Isaiah Mobley, and Onyeka Okongwu make up four of the five starting positions, meaning if USC were to land a highly-rated point guard, they would bring in a 2019 class with an elite player at every position.
This brings back memories of Michigan’s “Fab Five” in 1991-1992 and 1992-1993, teams consisting of the same starting lineup all recruited in the same year.
At the start of the 1991-1992 season, Michigan brought in Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson as freshmen. They did not start as a unit from day one, and in fact did not all start until February 9th in 1992 against Notre Dame, where they scored all of the team’s points and won 74-65. But after that game, they started together in every game for the rest of the season except one. These five would play together for two seasons, earning national championship game bids in both years although losing both times. In the 1992-1993 season, Webber would infamously call timeout in the title game when Michigan had none left, giving up possession and costing them the game.
How Does USC’s 2019 Class Compare to Michigan’s Fab Five?
USC’s 2019 class is different in the style of play. Enfield likes to have his offense run up and down the court shooting threes and throwing down dunks, while Michigan was about defense and physical dominance, perhaps best represented by Jalen Rose, Michigan’s 6-8 point guard.
But among USC’s 2019 commits, London attempted just 41 3-point field goals this past season in 33 games while Agbonkpolo took 106, with both players completing just 27 percent from that range. Okongwu rarely takes threes, making power forward Isaiah Mobley USC’s best incoming threat after making 35 percent of his 60 attempts last season.
The Fab Five were known for not taking many threes either. They set Final Four records for fewest 3-point field goals attempted and made after finishing 0-4 from the 3-point line against Kentucky. If USC’s 2019 class were to add a tall guard that could play point, they would have a carbon copy of the Michigan team.
Who Could USC Add at Guard?
The two best guards considering USC at the moment are point guard Kyle Sturdivant and shooting guard Cassius Stanley. USC, Ohio State, and Georgia are the favorites to land Sturdivant according to 247Sports, which in addition gives USC the highest chance at 50 percent. He is ranked 66th in the 2019 class by rivals and the tenth best at his position.
The other option is a good one in Stanley, a five-star recruit who seems like a lock at the moment. According to 247Sports, USC has a 100 percent chance of landing him. This is probably because of his family ties to USC. His father, Jerome Stanley, is a former agent for Keyshawn Johnson and attended USC law school. Stanley is ranked 19th by 247Sports and the second-best shooting guard, but is another player who prefers not to take many threes.
The idea of a new Fab Five is exciting, but USC did reel in elite recruiting classes in both 2017 and 2018 with Charles O’Bannon Jr., Jordan Usher, Victor Uyaelunmo, Elijah Weaver, J’Raan Brooks and Kevin Porter Jr. Most likely, when the 2019 recruiting class arrives, they will be competing for spots with many other talented players. For the upcoming class to form a Fab Five of their own, their teammates from different recruiting classes would have to fail to reach expectations, which is unlikely given their talent. For five players to all play well together and jell is not an easy task.
But it sure would be fun if something like this were to happen in 2021: with 15 seconds left in a tie game Mobley gets a chase down block, which is rebounded by London, who outlets to Okongwu, who dribbles into the corner and after finding himself trapped, thinks about calling a timeout but doesn’t, passing instead to Agbonkpolo, who quickly dishes the ball to Stanley. He then drives to his spot and with two seconds left lets the shot fly...